Our week in Avignon was not long enough! Our friends had several trips planned for us, and we were awed by each of them. But our first morning in Avignon had us walking the narrow cobbled streets within the walled city to go to Les Halles -the covered market.
It was necessary to get there before it closed at 1pm because it was not open the next day, and the ability to locate any fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses would be scarce otherwise. Our bodies were still acclimatizing to the time change and the late night at the music festival the night before, so our friends had to push us along a little to get to Les Halles before closing.
We entered the market building and witnessed the flurry of activity of merchants selling their wares and shoppers scooting around to fulfill their grocery lists before closing. During their year living in Avignon, our friends had met many of the merchants and became friendly with those that they frequented the most. Such is life -you get good service or realize where the best product is, and you return. Friendships begin.
Many of the merchants spoke a little English, and also appreciated their attempts to speak French, so our friends had made friends with the cheese mongers, the produce family, and the meat sellers through weekly banter and commerce. In French markets, you grab a basket and then fill it with your produce. It is then weighed and totaled for you.
Still in a haze, Scott and I were led around the market to the various stalls, and then just as quickly, the shopping was done and our dinner was bought. Ok, we were done; time for a drink!?
Throughout Avignon are les places, or town squares. Almost year round there are tables and chairs set up outside of bistros and restaurants within these town squares where there is no vehicle traffic. People can sit, have a drink and watch the world go by. Which is exactly what we did on our first afternoon in Avignon.
Afterwards, our family decided to take a little survey of the town via the touristy tram tour and see some of the highlights of Avignon while our friends returned home. The Palais de Papes (the palace of the Pope) is a gorgeous building in the centre of town, built first as a respite from the Vatican, and then became home to 6 popes during the 1300’s and was built upon and expanded.
After the tour, we were treated to our first home-cooked meal in France (although it was 35 degrees outside, so cold salads from our market trip were lovingly prepared and it was an ideal dinner). And some rosé pour les adultes, s’il vous plâit!